Antarctica 2010: It’s Always About The Weather

It was another busy weekend for the Antarctic explorers heading to the South Pole and beyond. For their first week out on the ice, the weather remained clear and cold, but that seems to be changing, as more challenging conditions set in.

Chris Foot continued making good progress in spite of those conditions. He reported walk in a whiteout for over seven hours, but told his home team that it was “mildly challenging.” Foot has now covered more than 125 nautical miles on his planned expedition both to and from the South Pole. He also dropped a much needed supply cache for his return trip to Union Glacier, which not only lightens the load on his sled now, but will also give him the supplies he needs when he is nearing the end of his expedition.

Willem ter Horst and guide Hannah McKeand are also continuing to make great progress, notching up 15+nm per day. Their competitive spirit is helping them some in that area, as they have been playing cat and mouse with another expedition, which has led to a little friendly rivalry that has both teams working to see who can go the farthest and fastest on a given day. That competition has seemed to payed off, as Willem and Hannah edged ahead of Team Zig-Zag, at least for now. They expect to nab their second degree tomorrow as the march continues to the Pole.

The Moon-Regan Transantarctic Expedition left the South Pole yesterday morning as they continue their journey by motorized vehicle across the entire continent. They are reportedly in good spirits once again thanks to a few days stay at the South Pole station, and while it was nice to have a break, they were all eager to get started once again. Reportedly progress has been slow in the new region they’ve moved into, thanks to soft, fluffy snow that is in abundance there. Scientists have named that area “the Swamp” as it is difficult to move through, either on foot or on a vehicle. They’ve also experienced some very cold and snowy conditions, which isn’t very helpful when you’re trying to repair an engine.

While we still haven’t heard a word out of the Indian Army Team, the Fuchs Foundation continues to send back daily updates of their progress. This is the team of educators from the U.K. who are in the Antarctic to conduct experiments and develop lesson plans for their class rooms back home. The group has been very active since their arrival in the Antarctic, as they travel to and from various locations in the mountains to take samples and readings. This team may not be headed to the South Pole, but they’re on just as big of an adventure, and they seem to having a lot of fun at the same time.

Finally, Alan Arnette is on Vinson, where he is attempting the first of his Seven Summits. He is currently at Base Camp on that mountain while he waits for a weather window to begin the actual ascent to the summit. The weather was terrific upon Alan’s arrival, and for a few days of shuttling supplies, but it has since turned bad, with snow and extreme cold. So for now, the climbers are sitting and waiting for a window to open. That window could come as early as tomorrow, but at the moment, it is not safe to go up the mountain.